BURBANK, Calif. — Tom Sizemore, the “Saving Private Ryan” actor whose bright 1990s stardom burned under the weight of his own domestic violence and drug convictions, died Friday at age 61.
The actor suffered a brain aneurysm on February 18 at his home in Los Angeles. He died in his sleep Friday at a hospital in Burbank, California, his manager, Charles Lago, said.
Sizemore rose to stardom with roles in Natural Born Killers and the cult crime thriller The Heat. But serious drug addiction, abuse allegations and numerous run-ins with the law destroyed his career, left him homeless and sent to prison.
When the global #MeToo movement began in late 2017, Sizemar was also accused of groping an 11-year-old Utah girl on set in 2003. He called the allegations “very disturbing,” saying it would never be inappropriate to touch a child. No charges were filed.
Despite his many legal troubles, Sizemore had a steady stream of film and television appearances, though his career never quite regained its former momentum. Aside from Black Hawk and Pearl Harbor, most of his 21st-century roles were in low-budget, low-run productions where he continued to play the rough, tough guys he became known for.
“I was a guy who came from a very young age and rose to the top. I had a multimillion-dollar house, a Porsche, a restaurant that I part-owned with Robert De Niro,” Detroit-born Sizemore wrote in his 2013 memoir, “By Some Miracle I Got Out.” “And now I had absolutely nothing.”
The title of the book was taken from a line spoken by his character in Saving Private Ryan, for which he won an Oscar. But he wrote that success turned him into a “spoiled movie star”, a “brazen fool” and eventually a “die-hard junkie”.
He racked up a string of arrests for domestic violence. Sizemore was married once, to actor Maeve Quinlan, and was arrested on suspicion of beating her in 1997. Although the charges were dropped, the couple divorced in 1999.
Sizemore was convicted of abusing ex-girlfriend Heidi Fleiss in 2003 — the same year he pleaded no contest and avoided trial in a separate rape case — and was sentenced to prison. The former Hollywood madam testified that he punched her in the jaw at the Beverly Hills Hotel and beat her in New York to such an extent that they were unable to attend the premiere of Black Hawk Down.
The sentencing judge said drug abuse was likely a catalyst, but the testimony revealed a man who had a deep-seated problem with women. Speaking to The Associated Press after the sentencing, Fleiss called Sizemar “zero.”
Sizemore apologized in a letter, saying he had been “punished” and that “personal demons” had taken over his life, although he later denied abusing her and accused her of faking a photo showing her bruises.
Fleiss also sued Sizemore, saying she suffered emotional distress after he threatened to revoke her probation. Fleiss was convicted in 1994 of running an expensive network of call girls. That lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms.
Sizemore was the subject of two workplace sexual harassment lawsuits related to the 2002 CBS show “Robbery and Homicide,” in which he played a police detective. He was arrested most recently in 2016 in another domestic violence case.
Sizemore was in prison from August 2007 to January 2009 for failing multiple drug tests while on probation and after authorities found methamphetamine in his car in Bakersfield, California.
“God is trying to tell me that he doesn’t want me to do drugs because every time I do, I get caught,” Sizemore told The Bakersfield Californian in a prison interview.
Sizemore told the AP in 2013 that he believed his addiction was linked to the attributes of success. He struggled to keep his emotional composure as he described the fall while looking in the mirror: “I looked like I was 100 years old. I had no relationship with my children; I had no work to speak of. I lived in a squat.”
He appeared on the reality show “Celebrity Rehab” and its spin-off “Sober House,” telling the AP that he did the show to get help, but also partly to pay off accumulated debts that ran into the millions.
Many of Sizemore’s later films have focused on science fiction, horror or action, with titles such as Impuratus, Night of the Tommynockers and Vampfather appearing in 2022 alone. But Sizemore still landed some breakout roles — including the Twin Peaks revival — and guest spots on popular shows like Entourage and The Hawaiian Five.
In 2016, the stuntman sued Sizemore and Paramount Pictures, claiming he was injured when an allegedly intoxicated actor ran over him during the filming of the US film The Shooter. State records obtained by the AP showed that Sizemore was only supposed to sit in a stationary car and that he “improvised at the end of the scene and drove off in his car.” Sizemore was fired from Shooter and the stuntman’s lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms.
In addition to acting in film and television, he provided the voice work for the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He also taught classes at the LA West Acting Studio, according to recent announcements.
He is survived by his 17-year-old twin sons, Jaden and Jagger, and his brother Paul, all of whom were by his side when he died.
“I’ve had an interesting life, but I can’t tell you what I’d give to be a guy you know nothing about,” Sizemore wrote in his memoir.
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